Safety assurance - all planned and systematic actions necessary to afford adequate confidence that a product, a service, an organisation or a functional system achieves acceptable or tolerable safety. (Commission Regulation (EU) 1035/2011);
Safety assurance - Processes within the SMS that function systematically to ensure the performance and effectiveness of safety risk controls and that the organization meets or exceeds its safety objectives through the collection, analysis, and assessment of information. (FAA AC No: 120-92B, Safety Management Systems for Aviation Service Providers).
Safety assurance activities are at the core of the safety management system (SMS) that aviation service providers (including aircraft operators) shall implement in order to meet ICAO SARPS and regulatory requirements. Safety assurance includes organisational arrangements and systematic processes for continuous surveillance and recording of the organisation’s safety performance, as well as evaluation of the safety management processes and practices. Safety assurance is the means to demonstrate that organisational arrangements and processes for safety achievement are properly applied and continue to achieve their intended objectives.
Safety Assurance should be intrusive and enquiring and not simply an administrative "box ticking" exercise.
SMS Safety Assurance Components identified by ICAO
Safety performance monitoring and measurement - aircraft operators/service providers shall develop and maintain the means to verify that the safety performance of the organisation complies with the safety policy and objectives, and to validate the effectiveness of safety risk management. This is achieved by monitoring and measuring the outcomes of activities that operational personnel must engage in for the delivery of services by the organisation.
Management of change - the aviation service provider organisation shall develop and maintain a formal process to identify and manage the changes within the organisation which may affect established processes, procedures, products and services. The management of change should ensure that required safety performance is achieved by reducing or eliminating the safety risks resulting from the changes in the organisation, the provision of services or in the operational environment.
Continuous improvement of the SMS - the aviation service provider organisation shall develop and maintain a formal process to identify the causes of sub-standard performance of the SMS, determine the implications of sub-standard performance in operations, and eliminate such causes.
Safety Surveys - shall be carried out as a matter of routine, to recommend improvements where needed, to provide assurance to managers of the safety of activities within their areas and to confirm conformance with applicable parts of their safety management systems;
Safety Monitoring - shall ensure that methods are in place to detect changes in systems or operations which may suggest any element is approaching a point at which acceptable standards of safety can no longer be met, and that corrective action is taken;
Safety Records - shall be maintained throughout the SMS operation as a basis for providing safety assurance to all associated with, responsible for or dependent upon the services provided, and to the safety regulatory authority. Safety records include all documentation produced and maintained throughout the operation of the SMS processes, including the risk assessment and mitigation documentation.
Regulatory Safety Assurance Activities
Regulators should continuously evaluate the implemented safety management arrangements and processes by aviation service providers by means of external regulatory safety auditing and other safety oversight methodologies.